The US administration’s decision to pull out of the Open Skies treaty is likely to have an effect on international politics and diplomatic relations for years to come. The pullout is not final as of yet, with the US leaving the door open for possible renegotiations with Russia, but as it stands, after six months, the US will no longer be a part of the deal that includes 34 countries.

The treaty essentially allows for participatory countries to conduct unarmed and unannounced flybys over each other’s territory, to monitor troop deployment and military installations as a means of arms control and to increase trust among rival states.

In principle, the deal is a means of deterrence and a confidence-building measure. However, with recent refusals by Russia to grant access to specific areas, and the shift to non-conventional strategies in conflict, the practical value of the deal is minimal.

Regardless, US allies in Europe are naturally concerned with this development. A US pullout from yet another arms deal is seen as a sign of greater problems by international observers. Backing out from the Iran deal was already criticised by all, this latest move is seen as a troubling trend in the Trump Administration’s method of handling discussions with rival states.

It is unlikely that the US and Russia are going to drift any further apart after this withdrawal. The US is clear that it wants greater access to Russian territory, and the latter might just comply with this request. But given the testy relationship with China, any further move to isolate Russia will only lead to greater cooperation between the two, and the region in general. In the post-pandemic world, those that deal with the crisis effectively are likely to be in a better position to establish their power in global politics. The US might need to keep both its allies and rivals close in the months that come.